From a reader…
In light of your recent question about “First Eucharist ” I was wondering about something else heard frequently. When referring to reception of the Blessed Sacrament some people say they are going to “take” Communion. When I first ran in to this I thought it was little kid misspeak, as the children would tell me how they are going to “take First Communion,” but then I noticed more and more people using the phrase. I was taught we “receive” Communion (kneeling, on the tongue) out of respect for Our Lord and Creator who is giving Himself to us in the most Blessed Sacrament. ”Take” seems like wildly inappropriate terminology conjuring up images of buffet Communion etc.
I’m guessing the origin of “take” is Matthew 26:26 “take and eat,” which seems like a misunderstanding of the passages and another attempt to undermine the Real Presence. Is my worry in this misplaced?
Yes, this is a problem.
No, I don’t think that most people who say “take” are up to something nefarious.
Most Catholics these days have dreadful language skills and can barely make distinctions anymore. Furthermore, they have been poorly catechized and their catechesis may have included all manner of sloppy though and language.
Our Catholic language, common parlance, has been massively eroded over the decades.
The erosion has been caused by a plethora of forces, including declining quality of basic education in both secular and Catholic schools, the melting of the brain by constant exposure to what is artificial, etc.
This is across the board.
We are in serious trouble.
Libs have pretty much won, by taking over education (as Gramsci advocated). Schools now churn out waves of – well- dummies, who haven’t been taught how to learn, how to think, how to speak, how to write. They are the perfect golems for the libs overarching projects to tear down the pillars and bonds of society and remake something different, some lib utopia. For example, is what was called “civics” taught any more? Nope. Hence, the young “skulls full of mush” get out of school and become the hapless prey of those who know and control the processes by which things get down. And for their social and political thoughts… no, that’s too precise… notions, they line up like lemming on the pre-defined paths trodden in sit-coms and comedic rants. Off to the cliffs they dash… dragging the rest of us along.
Am I wrong?
Back to “take”.
In my previous post, I wrote about how the meanings of words can drift and change over time. Words acquire new meanings while loosing others. It is a pretty much inexorable process in living, vernacular languages. It is interesting to note that immigrant communities, separated from their motherland, will often preserve older accents and what come to be archaic usages when compared to how the language is shifting back in the motherland. I have in mind, for example, some pockets of German speakers in Minnesota or Russians and Ukrainians in Canada. The French speakers of Quebec have an accent that hearkens to France of the 18th c. Creoles like Gullah are found all over. But I digress.
Let’s think about “take”. Look it up in a dictionary and you will find some 127 possible applications, including common idioms. However, an archaic use of “take”, still perhaps used in some circles, is “eat”. “Will you take something?” is “Will you eat something?” Also, in British and American usage, “take” can mean “to receive”.
When we look at Matthew 26:26 (and Synoptics and Corinthians) we find that the verbs are “take” and “eat”. In Greek, that “take” is from lambano: which in Biblical usage also has quite a few possible meanings, which include, as you might guess, “to receive”. In some sense it means, “make something one’s own”.
That’s the fancy stuff.
However, in modern common parlance, “take” means something more like, “reach out and grasp something”, if you – ehem – take my meaning. See how “receive… grasp… understand” can all fit into that “take”? “Get it”?
Hearing certain language and seeing certain gestures go… ehem… hand in hand.
Gestures mean something too. If for decades people have heard “take take take” and seen their fellows stick their hands out in a taking manner (even though they are receiving) their understanding of what is being “taken” is going to shift. Who knows what most Catholics “grasp” of the Eucharist?
I’m not sanguine. Most Catholics today are, I think, unwitting immanentists. If pressed, they would admit of the transcendent dimension of worship – if it were explained to them. But they would never think of it on their own. That’s what our “worship” and preaching and teaching has produced, in tandem with the prevailing pressures of the world, the flesh and the Devil.
Gestures and words have meanings that change because they are signs of something. That is going to apply to the Blessed Sacrament as well: the words we use and the gestures we apply in regard to the Eucharist will affect what people believe. Lex orandi – Lex Credendi. The way we pray and the liturgical gestures we make have a reciprocal relationship with what we believe.
If we believe a certain thing about the Eucharist, we will pray and treat It in a certain way. If our prayers change, our handling of the Eucharist will modify. Vice versa.
Of course libs want to change our terms and our gestures!
We should insist on clear terms and clear gestures.
We should insist on “receive” and “reception” of Communion.
We should promote the recovery of reception of Holy Communion directly on the tongue while kneeling.
We should move to ad orientem worship.
We need more Latin, which has more precision that can be explained.
We need more traditional devotional prayers of yore, which are rich in meaningful vocabulary and concepts.
All our gestures and words during Holy Mass have their transformative meanings. The whole package is our heritage and patrimony, which includes the story – like the family history – of who we are as Catholics, our Catholic identity.
We must reclaim and renew are Catholic identity.